Logo: University of Southern California

The Next 100 Years Essay Competition

Top Two Essays Are Published in USC Viterbi Engineer

May 01, 2006 —
Linda Deng
Early this year as part of the USC Viterbi School’s 100 Years of Engineering celebration, we announced an essay contest.  We asked students to tell us in 700 words or less what the next 100 years of engineering would look like.  We meant to limit this competition to undergraduates, but neglected to say so.  While almost all of the 50-odd essays we received were written by undergraduates, we did consider the few we received graduate students. 
Essays were judged by Steve Bucher, director of the engineering writing program; Bob Calverley, executive director, communications and public relations; Martin Gundersen, professor of electrical engineering; Eric Mankin, communications manager (who suggested the contest); Louise Yates, associate dean for undergraduate affairs; and Yannis Yortsos, dean of the Viterbi School.
First place went to Linda Deng and Yi Lu received second place honors.  Those two essays are being published in the Spring/Summer 2006 issue of the USC Viterbi Engineer magazine.  Rachel Morford and Justin Perez won the two third place prizes.  The other three finalists were Danielle Elkins, Andrew Jacobs and Valerie Giambanco.
Yi Lu
Almost every essay contained interesting observations about engineering and predictions for the next 100 years. We have some of the best posted here, and check back later because we will be adding more.  Click on each student’s name to view their essay.  Meanwhile, here are some excerpts:
 “The engineering students of this school must work to unite all students.  They must wholeheartedly pursue the inter-disciplinary, depth-with-breadth education that is growing increasingly vital to the survival of our world.”  Zenzile Z. Brooks
“A few things we know for certain:  Nations will go to war over conflicting foreign policies.  The USC football team should win 10 or 11 national championships while UCLA wins 10 or 11 games.  And if you start soon, during the next 100 years you could probably get through the Lord of the Rings Trilogy three, maybe four times.” Justin Perez - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“The University (USC) will have grown so much that the average freshman class will be 100,000.”  Tyler Parker
“…new technological advances will be made with a new division dealing with war and weapons engineering.  There will be a development of effective, but non-lethal weaponry, transportation and information technology.”  Marc Pacheco
“…engineering students at most institutions of higher learning will, as part of their compulsory degree requirements, work for a semester or two at an engineering firm or company or even assisting in engineering research at their own university.”  Charles E. Morgan III
Rachel Morford
“Flying cars. Vacations on lunar settlements. A robot housekeeper in every home. Regenerative human limbs. A cure for all modern diseases. Clothes that can maintain the wearer’s temperature in any weather. New energy sources. A longer human lifespan. An end to world-hunger.  These predictions may seem remarkably similar to those made in the 20th century as we entered the 21st.” Rachel Morford - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“While so many engineers and engineering schools are dumping time and resources into these unnecessary goods, much of the world, ~ 1/3 of it, lives in poverty.  Millions starve to death, infrastructure is in disrepair or non-existent, earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunami’s catch everyone off guard and these problems are truly escalating.”  Andrew Jacobs - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“Our society should reevaluate our final goal as human beings.  Do we exist merely to eat what and whenever we want, live in constant comfort, and be entertained?  Is this how we find true “happiness”?  Current trends in society seem to suggest otherwise.”  Kirsten McKay - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“After open-source programming, we might enter an era of ‘open-source manufacturing’ as fab labs (personal fabricators with ability to manipulate matter as information) become widespread.”  Nitin Sharma - Click Here to REad the Full Essay
“There will be a USC Viterbi campus on every continent by 2015.”  Launita Williams - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“The technology to stop global warming, feed the poor, cure the sick and inspire billions is well within our reach, if only we have the vision to strive for it.”  Miles Killingsorth - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
Justin Perez
“Within 100 years or so, passports and visas will disappear, and people will travel and communicate freely throughout the world.”  Jinhui Hu - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“100 years from now the sun’s energy will be harnessed more effectively and used to power homes and offices.  Cars will run exclusively off renewable sources like biodiesel.”  Jared Sain
“…sooner than 100 years from now, students may one day be embedded with microchips that directly download and store lecture lessons into their brains.”  Elizabeth K. So - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“In May of 2105, the University of of Southern California…separated itself into two divisions, one focused on the art of filmmaking and the other on engineering while all other majors have diminished allowing the school to focus all its energy into those two categories.”  Jonathan Dillon - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“The biggest challenge that engineers will face over the next 100 years is to maintain the integrity of their respective disciplines and the safety of the world and its inhabitants.”  Sebastian Jack Choularton - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“Society may take up virtual reality in more serious uses…The long disputed death penalty could come to an end, but a new controversy would begin.  Who are we to create a “hell” and who deserves to live through one?”  Daniel Favela
“There is no no end to how far we will advance in the next 100 years.  But I personal will not think it far enough until I can close my eyes and think about where I want to go, open my eyes and be there.”  Erin Daniel
“In the next 100 years, the hybrid system will not only become affordable and reduce the world’s dependence on oil, but it will become a large part in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.”  Danielle Elkins - Click Here to Read the Full Essay
“Actually it seems that everything needed to improve and sustain human life has already been created…I cannot think of any completely novel item that can be feasibly engineered, even though I am still holding out for teleportation and mind-reading devices.”  Valerie Giambanco - Click Here to Read the Full Essay